Protecting Your Kids from the Sun’s Harmful Rays
Are you taking all the right steps to protect your children from the sun?
According to the CDC, just a few serious sunburns can increase your child’s risk of skin cancer later in life. Officials stressed that kids do NOT have to be at the pool, beach, or on vacation to get too much sun that causes long-term damage. A child’s skin needs protection from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays anytime they are outdoors.
TOO MUCH SUN HURTS
Pink Skin: Experts explain that even if your child’s skin is just slightly pink, they’ve gotten too much sun. “Unprotected skin can be damaged by the sun’s UV rays in as little as 15 minutes,” CDC noted. “Yet it can take up to 12 hours for skin to show the full effect of sun exposure. In other words, if your child’s skin looks “a little pink” today, it may be burned the next morning.”
Tan: Even tan skin is skin damaged by the sun. “Any change in the color of your child’s skin after time outside – whether sunburn or suntan – indicates damage from UV rays.”
Cloudy Skies: Generally, it’s easier for parents to remember the sunscreen on a sunny, 90-degree day, but CDC experts stressed that children still need protection on cool and cloudy days. “UV rays, not the temperature, do the damage,” they explained. Clouds do not block UV rays, they filter them – and sometimes only slightly.
PROTECTING KIDS FROM UV RAYS
The CDC offers the following advice to protect your kids from harmful UV rays.
Seek Shade: UV rays are strongest and most harmful during the midday, so it’s best to plan indoor activities then. If this is not possible, seek shade under a tree, an umbrella, or a pop-up tent. Use these options to prevent sunburn, not to seek relief after it happens.
Cover Up: When possible, long-sleeved shirts and long pants and skirts can provide protection from UV rays. Clothes made from tightly woven fabric often offer the best protection. A wet T-shirt offers much less UV protection than a dry one, and darker colors may offer more protection than lighter colors.
Wear Sunglasses: They protect your child’s eyes from UV rays, which can lead to cataracts later in life. Look for sunglasses that wrap around and block as close to 100% of both UVA and UVB rays as possible.
Apply Sunscreen: Use sunscreen with at least SPF 15 and UVA and UVB (broad spectrum) protection every time your child goes outside. For the best protection, apply sunscreen generously 30 minutes before going outdoors. Don’t forget to protect ears, noses, lips, and tops of feet.
Officials added that it’s also a good idea to take sunscreen with you to reapply throughout the day, especially after your child swims or exercises. This applies to waterproof and water-resistant products as well.
SUNSCREEN AND BABIES
It is recommended by the CDC that you follow the directions on the package for using sunscreen product on babies less than 6-months-old. All products do not have the same ingredients; if your or your child’s skin reacts badly to one product, try another one or call a doctor. Your baby’s best defense against sunburn is avoiding the sun or staying in the shade.
“Keep in mind, sunscreen is not meant to allow kids to spend more time in the sun than they would otherwise. Try combining sunscreen with other options to prevent UV damage.” – CDC
THINGS TO WATCH FOR
According to the CDC, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has concluded there is not enough evidence to recommend for or against routine screening (total body examination by a doctor) to find skin cancer early. This recommendation is for people who do NOT have a history of skin cancer and who do not have any suspicious moles or other spots.